Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Question of the Day

A loaded question for someone in the education business:

Have you ever had a bad teacher? In what way was s/he bad?

Yes; she was a racist and a bigot and she taught high school history with those flavors.

At a New England boarding school, I had a teacher who told me I would never aspire to anything more than being an auto mechanic.  Turns out he had a master’s degree while I went on and got a Ph.D.  Put that in your carburetor and suck on it.  (By the way, being a mechanic requires a great deal of skill and expertise.  You could do a lot worse.)

15 barks and woofs on “Question of the Day

  1. My teenage son had a science teacher last year who taught that being gay is a choice, boys with single moms (hello!) grow up to be gay, and HIV can get through holes in condoms. In Florida. In 2013. Sigh.

  2. Long ago in North Dakota I had a mean teacher. She never hit me but to this day I remember her striking a young man in the face over and over because he did not learn his spelling words. I never forgot it. I hate people who are cruel.

    • Lark, that’s nauseating! After that, the poor guy probably hated school and never learned how to spell.

  3. Hmmm.

    There was the science teacher who was so extreme a passing grade in his class was a 50, and an A was 68 – and one year nobody got an A.

    There was the college prof who thought being LGBT was somehow cause for a) Nazism, b) ineptitude in office, or c) some other personal/political/social failing. Never said that outright, but had some rather snide things to say about select extremists, failures and other like sorts. Didn’t say much about the successful LGBT folks, though…

    Not a teacher per se, but one principal had absolutely no idea how to maintain order amongst her students. The teachers were at their wits end how to teach in that atmosphere.

  4. In high school — the late 80s — I had a biology teacher who once called me “honky cracker white boy” (she was African American; I am, indeed, white). In front of everyone in the class. It got a pretty good laugh.

    We ended up at a sit-down with my parents, the principal and her. It didn’t go well.

    My journalism teacher in high school, who also oversaw the production of the yearbook and newspaper, which I helped edit, sent me and my fellow upperclassmen to the horse track in Hot Springs often, giving us money to bet on his behalf. In a technical sense, that makes him a bad teacher. But I won’t lie: it was a lot of fun, and it made for some good stories.

  5. Not a particular teacher, but I had a series of history teachers in high school with the title “Coach”. Often, you could get a few of them to diagram plays.
    I didn’t start to like history until I graduated.

  6. I had an art teacher in junior high; we just simply did not like each other. He used his influence over his good students to produce product that he sold and pocketed the money. Anyway, when I went to high school, that sorry art teacher also went to high school with me. In my junior year, I made A honor roll and that sorry art teacher was my study hall teacher. We had to turn our grades into the front office for recognition and in so doing, I had to go through that art teacher for the recognition. I showed him my grades, and he questioned my veracity. Practically accusing me of faking the grades. That guy died a few years ago, I never forgave him.

  7. I don’t know how to define “bad” in regard to the teaching profession unless a teacher simply can’t teach and if so, why did he/she choose to do so and why did the administration hire the person? Controlling a class of twits is a challenge, let’s admit. But as a freshman in college I had an English teacher who tried to teach us communism as then practiced by the Soviet Union, this being the late 1940’s. Those were the days when many Americans got sentimental about Uncle Joe Stalin, as I recall. But I took it as a sideshow from the promised English lessons and was unimpressed by the sales job. As soon as I could I changed my major to Child Study. I was in my 40’s before I got the English Literature I was deprived of in my late teens.

  8. In my junior and senior years in high school we had the same homeroom teacher. She was a very intellectual woman with great teaching skills but had no patience for young women in their teens. She could go ballistic in five seconds and the insults out of her mouth were really funny. That made it even worse because we would laugh at what she said, including the “insultee”. Her favorite insult was “you should take up paper hanging instead of making your parents spend their money to educate you”.

  9. My fifth grade teacher, in Louisiana in 1964, was from Georgia. She began each day, first with the salute to the flag, and then a somewhat modified rebel yell consisting of grinning like a death’s head and shouting “All you chil’en who hate N……. raise yore hands!”

    Yeah, after a month of not raising my hand and beginning to fail every subject, I quit going to school.
    Luckily, being a military brat, they just assumed we had moved and about six months later we did.

    • God, that’s awful.

      None of my teachers were awful. Admittedly, though, a good many were incompetent or arrogant. The “great” teachers I can count on one hand.

  10. If I’m fair about it, I must say that most of my teachers were average/mediocre. There were a few who were malignant and malicious but there were also a few that were super stars in every way. The super stars had deep and broad knowledge in their subjects, were able to wring the last drop of thought and work from each student, and were both a pain and a joy to sit before. I was lucky in my college professors (with only two exceptions) were superb. Even the two who were not very good had the good grace to not be horrible people – just not very good teachers.

  11. A psychology professor in college simply could not draw up a lesson plan. He’d begin lecturing about X then wander off for an hour on totally unrelated topics. No cohesion or logic. It made note-taking impossible. It was like watching ADD in full disarray.

  12. To reverse the QOTD: One of my best teachers was during my senior year in high school. She was from England and had that wonderful accent. Imagine hearing Chaucer or Beowulf read in Old English by someone with a proper accent! She opened up literature in such an enticing way that I majored in English lit in college.

  13. Every single nun at St. Mary’s Elementary school. Every last one of them. Mean, spiteful, hateful and abusive women, both verbally and physically, with attitudes and teaching methods stuck in the 1870’s. From them I learned such pearls of wisdom as “Hitler wasn’t that bad. You don’t know what they Jews were doing in Germany.”, “The earth revolves around the sun because…God wants it that way.”, and my personal favorite, “I’m going to pray that the next time you make a face, God freezes it that way.”

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